Statement of John Affeldt, EUSD Board President
As Supt. Rubio has noted it was a technical violation of the Brown Act to have a third board member be present to observe a Superintendent’s committee meeting on November 18th . We all regret this error; I am sorry it happened on my watch, and we will make sure this does not happen again.
Let me emphasize, there was no substantive consequence as a result of Member Merriam’s presence on November 18th. No actions were taken, no decisions were made. What is more, the information generated at the Superintendent’s committee meeting was immediately shared with the full board and the public at the board meeting that night. The only discussion by board members on November 18th as to whether to support the bond issuance was had in public at the full board meeting. The sole purpose of the Superintendent’s committee meeting was to update the list of known and potential outstanding ECCL construction costs. The Board as a whole, when discussing the bond item at its prior public meeting, had requested that such a list be presented to the Board at the meeting on November 18th .
That this meeting occurred as it did was an honest mistake. I and the other board members present at the meeting relied on staff’s understanding that it was not a violation of the Brown Act to have a third board member observe the meeting, but not participate. There is such a rule, but it did not apply in this instance. Staff were confusing the fact that additional board members are permitted to silently observe publicly noticed meetings of two-member committees of the board. This was a superintendent’s committee meeting and, as such, is not publicly noticed. In that case, the non-participation of the third board member does not prevent a quorum from being formed. As the Supt. has noted, the Board will undertake additional training to refresh all of us on the Brown Act, most likely at our semi-annual retreat early next year.
I appreciate Member Patz informing us of the fact that he believed a Brown Act violation had occurred. I was wrong in my understanding that it had not. Yet, Mr. Patz did more than convey that belief. On November 18th , he made very inflammatory claims about what occurred at the Superintendent’s committee meeting—asserting that board members intentionally used the meeting to act as a “cabal,” to discuss and “pre-determine” passage of the bond. And, he did so without even first asking his fellow board members what had taken place. I take issue with anyone who is willing to make assertions with reckless disregard for whether they are true or not. When any person, much less a public official, makes an unfounded, inflammatory assertion, they sow confusion and undermine open and honest civic dialogue. We don’t all have to agree. But we all should refrain from making unfounded accusations of intentional wrong-doing against each other.
Now, it doesn’t feel right to end it right there. On reflection, it has occurred to me that Mr. Patz may have acted as he did because of a fundamental lack of trust of his fellow board members. Now, we may have different styles; we may have different personalities; we may have different objectives. But we are all on this Board together and we have to lead this district together.
To do that, we have to trust each other. So, I’m going to propose that the Board, at its retreat in the early part of the coming year, explore engaging some kind of intervention where we can work on the trust issues that currently exist so that we can move forward together. We have many important items before us in the coming year, including addressing our composition between Anna Yates and ECCL and opening the ECCL facility. I look forward to continuing to work with all members of the board and the school community on these and other matters.